L-12 / BEADS KEYSTONE 13 Critical Questions to Ask Before Buying a Home Site, and During Construction

L-12 BEADS Keystone


The following are the MOST CRITICAL questions, which must be considered ALL AT ONCE,
as if the entire BEADS KEYSTONE is one step.

Before you buy land, heed the  BEADS Keystone
Building Lines
Bearing Soil
Electricity & Utilities
Allowed Extent of Structures
Allowed Extent
Automobile Parking
Drinking Water
Silt Control

Stabilize Everything


Boundaries, Lot Lines, Property Lines – they’re all the same. They show the extent of ownership for any given parcel of land. Before you buy land, make sure the boundaries are clearly and legally designated. A quick visit to the county or municipal building and land department, with jurisdiction over your proposed land, will often answer any and all questions pertaining to land boundaries.


Also known as Setback Lines, a building line marks the specific distance that a structure must be set back from a property line.
Building Setback Lines may be different for the front, rear, and sides; and for various types of structures; and for different locations on the property.
Check Plats and Zoning to find out about yours.  This called the Building Area.


This refers to the type of soil that will support or bear the  weight of the house.
There are many types of bearing soil, such as clay, mud, sand, and stone.
A foundation must match the requirements of the bearing soil beneath it.
The soil affects the foundation. The foundation affects the total building cost.


An Easement is an area of property where use is restricted against the owner. An Easement familiar to many people is a public sidewalk in front of a house. Another is a drainage ditch behind or beside a house.
Some Easements restrict construction on a small portion of property, while others prohibit any building on all of the property.
Easements are part of the public record, but seldom publicly known. Check the title records. If your chosen property has a restrictive easement, you might not be able to build at all. Check the title records for you proposed property before you buy.


Where is the source of power for this particular site? How will the electric power get to the house? How will other electric powered utilities, like telephone, cable TV, and the INTERNET, get to the house.


The applied ‘extent’ of a structure is the part allowed to touch, but not cross a building line. Rules vary. The extent might be the edge of walls, footings, any overhangs, decks, patios, stoops, steps, and more. CHECK CAREFULLY.


Most areas now have very strict design standards, which dictate everything from wall surfaces to roof slope to landscaping to the size and dwelling units per building. Before you buy, educate yourself concerning all possible restrictions. If you build anything that violates legal guidelines, you can be forced to tear it down at your own expense.

AUTOMOBILE PARKING & Related Transport Vehicles

Some strict ordinances and design standards dictate where and for how long vehicles are allowed to be parked and/or stored. Such rules may apply to any street-legal or off-road cars, trucks, tractors, trailers; sports vehicles, like golf carts, go karts, boats, and four-wheelers, motorcycles, and bicycles, even lawnmowers, and garden trailers.


Water flows downhill. This is not likely to change. Pay attention to any water sources uphill from your chosen land. Also consider the cost of correction and controlling all storm and flood water to prevent damage to your future home.


Warning  – Without access to public drinking water (potable), you’ll need to install a well. Building jurisdictions require minimum setbacks of wells from the home-site, and any land treated with dangerous chemicals. To avoid buying land that prohibits or restricts an on-site well, make the purchase of the land contingent on a ‘good’ Well Test, and verification that Water Rights run with the land. In many instances, you can buy land that includes Test Results for a Drilled Well. CAUTION : You still need to contact a professional to verify the test documents and sign off on the permits.


A long driveway – asphalt, gravel, crushed stone, concrete, or earthen  – can cost as much as the entire house, causing the construction budget to be used up before the house can be built. Ask a professional driveway-land-form-roadway engineer to assess the cost of installing an adequate driveway BEFORE YOU BUY THE LAND.


Warning  – When you buy land that does not have access to public drinking water, wastewater, and sewage disposal systems, you need to install a septic and a well. Building jurisdictions require minimum setbacks of septic systems from the home, wells, creeks, rivers, lakes, and streams to prevent contamination.
To avoid buying bad land that prohibits or restricts on-site sewage disposal, or requires a specially designed, very expensive septic system, make the purchase of the land contingent on a ‘good’ Percolation Test and/or Well Test. In many instances, you can buy land that includes Test Results for a Drilled Well and Sewage Percolation. CAUTION : You still need to contact a professional to verify the test documents and sign off on the permits.


Silt is not allowed to cross Property Lines
Any exterior construction process generates excess sand and dirt residue, mud, sawdust, mortar & concrete dust, and airborne small-particle debris – SILT – all of which will settle to the ground. Then, when it rains, that muddy silt is carried downhill, by the flow of drainage. Your Silt must be contained on your property. Start right now to form a plan as to where Construction-phase Silt Fencing will be installed, on this property.


For A New Build – Ground and earthworks must be firm and resistant to erosion, crumbling, and sliding. This applies to deep below the surface as well as on it.
For Add-ons and Renovation – Along with firm ground, all existing structures must be assessed for stability. Existing portions of buildings affected by any changes must be strong enough to withstand new pressures exerted by new rooms and roofs. Areas that seem to be outside the changes can still be subjected to lateral pushing and pulling, inflicted by new components and spaces.

Apply the BEADS Keystone throughout the life of every project. When in doubt, invoke BEADS.

Buy a subscription

Buy a subscription

just for yourself.

Give a subscription

Give a subscription

to someone

who might need help

building or remodeling.

Tell a friend about this website

Tell someone

who needs to see HBT.